Help with a rewrite

I could really use your help.

In working on a second book in the “Judges of Israel” series, I am using a much stronger romance theme. That’s been one challenge. But my wife, a great proofreader and editor, made the comment that she struggles with following “who’s who” throughout the story.

I’m interested in getting some critique and feedback.

Would you be willing to help? I’ll post the story by chapters and partial chapters (approx. 1500 to 2000 words each). Any feedback would be appreciated.


“For Such a Time” 21084 words

Chapter One

“Are you completely out of your mind?” Kirieth is up to his old tricks again.

I’m not even sure what he’s doing here. As judge of Israel, I’m supposed to be the voice of the nation of Israel, but this man is trying his best to take my place – and he’s doing it without any real authority.

While I have been given the position of prophetess and judge by Jehovah Himself, Kirieth has simply assumed the position of advisor to Barak, the military commander, by simple friendship. Worst of all is the fact that Kirieth seems to have no respect for my authority. If this is allowed to continue, my position could be affected to the point of making it completely ineffective.

Why Barak has such faith in this worthless man is beyond anything I can understand. He is far too smart to be taken in by this charlatan. Time after time Kirieth has shown himself to be without scruples. On one hand he tells Barak anything he wants to hear, and on the other gives advice that benefits Kirieth alone. Yet, despite all that, Barak seems totally enamored.

As I consider that fact I am forced to admit to myself that Kirieth is quite capable of convincing people of all manner of amazing things. The ability this man possesses to convince people that he is something other than he actually is never leaves my mind. As much as I would like to blame Barak for his indiscreet actions in trusting the man, any blame I find would be shoved right back in my face.

“Barak,” I decide to continue the message I have been told to share, rather than get immeshed in this vocal battle, “Jehovah has told me that we are to attack at this time. Hiding on this mountain is not how He will bring deliverance. The issue of numbers is of no consequence.”

“No consequence!” Kirieth springs to his feet as sweat trickles down his chiseled cheeks. “No consequence? We have ten thousand warriors. Sisera has nine hundred iron chariots alone. If we leave the mountain we give up the ONLY advantage we have.”

“Yes,” I shouldn’t respond – but I can’t help myself, “and they have thousands upon thousands more soldiers than we have as well. We cannot possibly win.” Sarcasm is often effective in this type of situation.

“And yet you say the numbers are of no consequence…” Kirieth obviously isn’t interested in hearing anything I have to say.

“Jehovah wonders where our trust is,” I respond again.

“Don’t give me that religious…”

“Kirieth, if you are wise you won’t say another word.” Barak speaks for the first time. “You are on thin ice. We are here because Deborah heard Jehovah say we were to come. If she tells us that He is giving us the command to leave the mountain, we leave the mountain.”

“I don’t know why I even give my opinion,” Kirieth can’t seem to keep his mouth shut. “You always take her advice anyhow. The advice of a woman.”

“I don’t remember asking for your opinion.”

I have to turn away to hide the smile on my face. To watch the reaction of Kirieth is a study in emotional dichotomies because Barak didn’t say things like this to him, and the resulting expressions range from surprise, to shock, to anger, and back to shock like the waves moving on the sea off to our east.

Without another word he leaves the tent – and I wonder if that isn’t even more dangerous. I remind myself again that I have an unexpected, but very genuine, enemy that I need to keep a constant eye out for; but that has been the case for many years now.

“Deborah,” my focus is forced back to the matter at hand, “is there anything in particular that we are to do as we leave the mountain?”

Addressing that question to me as prophetess is a legitimate thing to do even if I would rather not be asked to answer. The fact that I have also been appointed judge simply complicates things. And, finally, the fact that I had called Barak to raise the army of men from his tribe and the nearby one of Ephraim muddies the waters yet further. Ten thousand warriors against the horde of deadly assassins in the valley below makes little sense. I can respond in a number of ways, and must choose my words with care. The message I heard while meditating told me that we were to attack the Canaanite forces, but hadn’t given me anything about how that was to be done.

“No, Barak. I was simply told that we were to leave the mountain – and that we would be victorious.”

“Nothing more?”

I can understand his feelings, they’re similar to my own; but I can’t tell him what I haven’t been told myself. It isn’t like the commands of Jehovah come with little signs explaining why He is making those demands. “I’m sorry…”

“You know I trust you…” He glances at me out of the corner of one eye, and that look makes me wonder if the phrase is more of a question or a statement. “We’ll leave at first light.”

As I wander out of Barak’s tent and move toward my own shortly after that, my mind is filled with questions, and I try to set them aside to enjoy the evening. The top of Mount Tabor has always been one of my favorites, so I’m in no hurry to leave it behind. Even as a young girl I would come up here with my father. The Sea of Galilee sparkling like a diamond off to the east is heady; in the moonlight it mesmerizes me with its similarity to the beautiful ring of my mother’s dowry. The “wedding diamond” – gathering every bit of available light to reflect its love to anyone who cared to notice – held nothing to the beauty of the waters reflecting the light of the sunset.

The wind blows my hair in embracing ripples around my head as it rushes from its home in the northern mountains toward its destiny with the heat of the Dead Sea to the south. There are enough wildflowers in the area to give the breeze a pleasant scent that rivals any perfume. The night would be intoxicating, if not for the looming battle.

Even as I drink in the cool, gentle air I wonder, Is it preparing to storm? I can’t tell in the darkness, but one must always consider it in this location. The ability of this area to spawn storms on the moment is legendary. Thinking of the ways in which Jehovah has used storms in our nation’s history I wonder if that might be the answer for what is to happen this time. I struggle to catch sight of any small cloud in the northern hills, but simply find myself marveling at the full view in any direction.

I imagine the Canaanites preparing to light the fires for their evening meal. I shiver knowing that we will soon be able to see those tiny flames from Hades reaching out to destroy us.

The peace of the moment is instantly gone as the thought of the coming storm floods my mind. I suck in my breath attempting to rid myself of the terrible thoughts that come with the image, but the attempt is only marginally productive. Why would Jehovah ask us to leave this place of natural advantage? I quickly remind myself that He is in control, and has asked this type of thing on numerous occasions in our history. Why should we expect anything different?

The images of attacking forces are replaced by memories of childhood as I try to embrace one last pleasant thought before bed and the conflict that will commence when I awaken. My eyes close for just a moment, and the memories come flooding back as if it were yesterday.